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Ordering From The Secret Wine List

Thanks to fellow blogger Amy Sherman of Cooking with Amy for e-mailing me a note about a recent article in the LA Times that takes up the subject of wines that don't appear on the wine list at fancy restaurants. We've all suspected at one time or another that there might be a secret list that well-heeled or well-known customers get to order from, and perhaps even experienced it ourselves. In fact many fine restaurants do have stashes of bottles that don't appear on the regular wine list for many reasons, chiefest among them being either the restaurant has very little of the wine or that the restaurant is aging the wine and doesn't feel it's ready to serve. Sometimes, though, there are just some bottles that restaurants want to reserve for someone special. Luckily for those of us who aren't celebrities, that someone special can simply be a serious wine lover who takes the time to talk with the Sommelier and inquire as to what might be on offer.

Beware, though, ordering off-list comes with the somewhat unspoken rule that if you have to ask how much it costs, you probably can't afford it.

Check out the full story here.

Comments (4)

Gia wrote:
02.13.06 at 12:24 PM

This secret list is a bit like the secret menu that I can sometimes get at Chinese restaurants. They only make certain dishes for folks who can really appreciate it, like steamed chicken with ginger and green onion sauce.

grazza wrote:
02.15.06 at 10:33 AM

As a sommelier in a michelin starred restaurant, this post rings slightly true. We dont have a secret list, but we do have loads of wines that arent on the wine list for a variety of reasons. If someone expresses an interest in these wines, then i will usually inform them that i do indeed have a bottle or two of said wine, and if they are interested we can come to an arrangement. They arent neccessarily blockbuster four figure bottles, often it can be something simple that came in over the last couple of days, and i havent yet had the time to add it to the epos, wine-list, fridge space, rack etc etc. The golden rule i guess is if you ask nicely, we will see what we can do. If we have it, then you can too, if we dont, maybe i can get you one for next time you come.

we dont all bite you know.


Louis Miller wrote:
02.22.06 at 10:03 AM

Speaking of wine list....can one change the subject a little? I'm curious how restaurants in Texas are able to offer older wines when wine must be purchased through the 3 tier system which I would assume did not have older wines to sell. If I was a new restaurant how could I find these 47 bourdeauxs to compete with the next guy?

Alder wrote:
02.22.06 at 1:36 PM


Can't help you there. I don't know anything about the distribution issues in Texas.

Thanks for your comments.

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